“Everyone is winning the game they are playing”
I’ve been playing around with this reframe lately after accepting it as a paradigm in a coaching course I recently invested in. First reading it, I wasn’t attached to the concept one way or another. As I’ve let it sink into my life over the last week I have seen the way I move through my life subtly shift. I have observed others through this lens as well and I’ve noticed my empathy increase.
At times I’ve been tied to the idea of self-sabotage – noticing when I do it and calling myself out on it. Straight up saying out loud ‘self sabotage!’ if I “catch” myself spending hours on instagram, snoozing when I “should” be writing, daydreaming when I “should” be organizing. The issue with the self-sabotage mindset is that at it’s core, its about punishment. It assumes a lack of autonomy and self-control. Essentially I am slapping my own hand as I reach into the proverbial cookie jar… but I’m not really doing much to look at why I’m constantly reaching into the cookie jar in the first place. This paradigm of looking at everything as a game presents the idea that if a behavior repeats itself over and over, there is some payoff. The cookie is giving me some benefit. The “self-sabotage” is a way that I am winning at some game – distraction, self-consciousness, mindlessness. Because here’s the thing: I’m not broken. What I’m experiencing is, on some level, what I want to be experiencing.
There’s no such thing as self-sabotage. It’s a game I play to get an outcome. Hence – everyone is winning the game they are playing. The key here is to look deeper. It’s not about being sneaky in the “quit playing games with my heart” sort of way. It’s about awareness and honesty, stepping back with the intention of moving forward.
So, I have started to ask myself: what games am I playing?
This question forces me to be radically honest about the thoughts I have, the attention I direct, and the games I play – with others, with myself. It forces me to stop, look at things and become aware. I frequently kill it at the game of being distracted. Not always, and not right now, but I play that game enough to feel like a champion about it. I am also doing pretty good at the game of surviving, but not so great at the game of thriving. I’ve been going strong at the game of letting myself feel quiet + small when I know I have the potential for more. I let old wounds dance around in my current relationships creating a game of mistrust and overanalyzing.
What games are worth playing and winning?
- The game of fulfilling, affirming, loving friendships based on building up rather than tearing down.
- The game of staying clear and focused on my goals.
- The game of following through with my commitments + ideas.
- The game of self-acceptance and love.
- The game of nourishing my body with good food.
Here’s the thing with winning at games: you have to practice. Which brings me to another paradigm I invite you to consider: Life isn’t easy – it’s practice.
I have decided to stop working hard with the assumption that it’s going to suddenly become perfect… or easy. I work hard and appreciate the fact that I GET to work hard and that the result leads me to my next challenge and my next opportunity.
So from here, I am going to be more active and choose the games I am playing and practice them. If you’re in, ask yourself: what games do I want to be putting my energy behind? How can I practice these games? Practice followthrough by thoroughly cleaning your bathroom. It sounds silly, but the way you do that is practice for the thoroughness you bring to other areas of your life. Practice the game of loving friendship by listening deep rather then glossing over the surface or telling someone you care for them or even just checking in.
We’re all winning. We just have to decide what games we really want and then put our energy and practice into them.